The BBC’s Mark Thompson claims that he had ‘no choice’ other than to invite Nick Griffin on to Question Time because of the Corporation’s ‘central principle of political impartiality’ – nicely distancing himself from any suspicion of a ‘desire’ to invite Griffin to liven up the ratings.
Mark Thompson had the advantage of making that statement in a cool calm interview with the Daily Mail. Had he been required to make that assertion in front of a self selected audience of interested parties, such as members of Bectu, the CWU, Unite, Aslef and co, whilst continually interrupted by panel members comprised of political figures committed to the abolition of the BBC, we might this morning be reporting that ‘Thompsonism is a state of permanent denial’ or ‘Mr Thompson was incoherent and unconvincing’ or ‘Repugnant, slippery and exposed as an empty vessel’ – but he wasn’t, so we are allowed to make up our own minds in peace and quiet as to whether we believe him, trust him, or wish to hear further from him.
A pity that ‘central principle of political impartiality’ didn’t extend itself beyond the invitation to the production of last night’s Question Time.
Nick Griffin’s arrival on the Question Time panel was marked by boos, jeers, hostility, and pre-prepared insults and goads – and that was just inside the studio.
What back screen negotiations with Downing Street left the ‘proper’ politicians on one side of Dimbleby, with Griffin marooned on the other side with Bonnie Greer, the other ‘lightweight’, no-body-is-quite-sure-why-she-is-here panellist? To Greer’s credit, she was the only one of the panel who responded to Griffin with anything approaching civility or the normal courtesy extended between those of differing political beliefs on late night television.
Jack Straw took his seat to the right of the host, ‘the honoured guest’, and from there did his best to look tortured but heroic as he plainly fought the urge to throw up; voice cracking with emotion when required to speak in this polluted atmosphere.
The usual Question Time format was discarded, the only vaguely topical question was on Jan Moir’s ‘Gatelygate’ article. Nine tenth of the time was taken up with questions of BNP policy and immigration – which had only become topical because of the invitation to Nick Griffin.
Thus the show took on the semblance of a Star chamber as one panellist, Griffin, was invited – to cheers and whoops of glee from the decidedly partisan audience – to defend his party and his beliefs. This is what passes for ‘political impartiality’ in the BBC in these dog days of Labour.
There were only two questioners – ‘You, in the yellow jumper, back row!’ – who didn’t take the opportunity to add some gratuitous ad hominem attack to their question, ‘repugunant’, ‘odious’, ‘disgusting’ etc, and their questions were delivered to a momentarily silent audience.
‘The vast majority of this audience finds what you stand for disgusting,’ one man told him.
Indeed, there was no support for Griffin in this audience or this panel. Which traduced the very reason he was there – he does have support within the British population. A million people – who were co-incidentally tossed aside as deluded fools who had been ’seduced’ into voting for him – apparently represent an unimportant minority, one whose views do not even have to be seriously debated – all done in the name of a multi-culturalism that supposedly exists to support minority views. What hypocrisy.
Does anybody imagine that a million voters who may well have voted for the BNP on the grounds that they feel marginalised, ignored, patronised and misunderstood will have watched last nights programme and felt any the less marginalised, ignored, patronised or misunderstood?
Regardless of where you stand on BNP policies, and as far as I am concerned, you may stand wherever you wish, we still have a semblance of a democracy, this was hare-coursing as spectator sport. It was unedifying. It was a return to the days of the inmates of Bethnell Green asylum being paraded for the entertainment of nobility.
I was ashamed to be watching this pantomime.